The demand for new homes, infrastructure and buildings in the UK has never been higher which is great news for the construction industry. But, building deals generally cost thousands of pounds and can be very complicated. An informal agreement simply won’t cut it - a contract, however, will.
Contracts define how something should be built, by who and how much it will cost. It also sets out the rights, obligations and liabilities of all parties. There are many different types of contracts within the construction industry, so picking the right one is crucial. They are relevant to many different areas of construction, whether you’re a project manager overseeing a construction build or a quantity surveyor working to a budget.
The Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) produces a range of standard contracts for the construction of buildings and are some of the most widely-employed contracts in the UK. Used for complex construction projects, the standard form building contract is considered an industry benchmark and comes in six versions which include private and local authority versions as well as those with quantities, without quantities and with estimated quantities.
In addition to the standard contract, the JCT produces nine sub-contract forms for different scenarios such as domestic builds, maintenance and repairs and minor works where building work is under £100,000 and will take less than six months to complete.
The Association of Consultant Architects produces a form of Building Agreement which is designed to be more concise and flexible than some other forms. It also features standard alternative clauses which can be customised by the parties involved and used for design and build projects, this may be useful for a project engineer.
The ICE Conditions of Contract is suitable for both public or private scenarios where a major civil engineering project is undertaken. In this contract the engineer’s position is comparable with that of the architect. Under the contract the engineer has extensive powers of direction and control.
The International Federation of Consulting Engineers produces a Conditions of Contract which is suitable where an engineer is employed as the agent of the client. This contract sets out the provision of sub-contractors and extensions to any contract period etc.
The NEC’s Engineering and Construction Contract comes with a set of standard clauses common to building projects as well as extra clauses, which allow it to be adapted to the specific circumstances in hand. It’s also written in “plain English” so it’s user-friendly, easy to understand and intended to be used by all partners on a building project, particularly where a team approach is encouraged.
This contract is primarily used for government contracts but can also be used in the private sector. It comes in four volumes with additional model forms which cover areas such as invitations to tender and the forms of tender. Its use is being slowly phased out as the government continues to move towards more user-friendly NEC contracts.